Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #112
CE Offered: BACB
Enhancing the Employability of Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 26, 2018
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom G
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jason Travers (University of Kansas)
CE Instructor: Jason Travers, Ph.D.

Reports of a recent national survey indicate that young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at higher risk for unemployment than young adults with other disabilities (Shattuck et al., 2012). Deficits in social skills contribute to lack of success in job interviews and sustained employment. This symposium will focus on different teaching strategies to enhance the employability of young adults with ASD. The first study evaluated the effects of individual components of an interview-training package to improve responses to eight commonly asked interview questions. Positive outcomes were observed for all participants during mock interviews, and the responses generalized to a novel interviewer and maintained at one-month follow-up. The second study evaluated the effects of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) intervention on verbal and nonverbal behaviors for three individuals with ASD. Dependent measures included verbal and physiological responses during mock interviews. The third study examined the impact of video modeling to teach customer service skills (i.e., customer service phrases) to a young adult with ASD employed as a cashier at a retail store. In addition to acquiring the target behavior, both the participant and his employer rated the intervention favorably. The symposium presenters will each offer recommendations for future research in this area.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): autism, interview skills, job skills
Target Audience:

Practitioners and researchers working with this populations and/or those interested in conducting follow-up studies in this area of research.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Discuss the importance of teaching job-related skills to young adults with ASD. 2. Describe common and more novel approaches to teach job interview skills to young adults with ASD. 3. List at least two different ways to extend the results presented in the symposium (e.g., areas for future research on this topic).

A Component Analysis of Job Interview Training for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

HELENA WHITLOW (Seven Hills Foundation), Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Nicole Auclair (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

A successful job interview contributes to gainful employment, but individuals with ASD struggle with interviewing skills (Hendricks, 2010). Previous research has focused on training programs to teach job-interviewing skills, but few studies have evaluated procedures to improve responses to interview questions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of individual components of an interview-training package on responses to eight commonly asked interview questions by young adults with ASD. We used a multiple baseline design across participants to evaluate the impact of: 1) written instructions, 2) rehearsal and video self-feedback using a commercially available program, and 3) verbal feedback from a trainer. A generalization probe was conducted by a career counselor not involved in the study. Results show all participants required a remedial behavioral skills training session to answer all eight interview questions with accuracy. The skills generalized to an interview with a novel trainer and were maintained at follow-up. We will discuss the limited impact of each training component and areas for future research.


Improving Flexible Responding During a Mock Job Interview for High Functioning Adults With Autism

VICTORIA DIANE HUTCHINSON (Southern Illinois Univesity), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)

A deficit in social skills is a common issue among individuals with autism. Adaptive social skills are often required for individuals with autism to live a more autonomous lifestyle. One area in which adaptive social skills are necessary is with the job interviewing process. Past research has shown success in behavior skills training (Kelly, Wildman, & Berler, 1980) and modeling (Hall, Sheldon-Widgen, & Sherman, 1980) to improve these skills among individuals with autism. However, there is a limitation to these procedures because they do not address the language barrier present in many individuals with autism. More research is needed to determine effective procedures for increasing flexibility in verbal and nonverbal behaviors in individuals with autism during a job interview. The current study measured verbal and physiological responses of three individuals with autism during a mock job interview before and after the implementation of mindfulness and defusion activities. A noncurrent multiple-baseline procedure was used to evaluate the effects of an ACT intervention prior to a job interview. A discussion of the results will be provided that will relate to current literature and future directions for research will be provided.


Developing Customer Service Skills in a Young Adult With Autism Employed at a Retail Store

LESLIE ANN BROSS (University of Kansas), Jason Travers (University of Kansas)

Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience lower rates of employment and may have difficulty maintaining employment that requires customer service and/or social skills. Additional research is needed to examine existing evidence-based practices (EBPs) as learners with ASD progress across the lifespan. An established EBP, video modeling, was implemented to teach customer service skills to a young adult with ASD employed as a cashier at a bargain retail store. A multiple baseline across behaviors design was used to teach three different customer service phrases. A co-worker served as the peer model and videos were shot using an iPhone. Visual analysis indicated that customer service phrases increased contingent on watching video models. The degree of confidence of the visual analysis is high. Both the young adult with ASD and his employer highly rated the social validity of the video modeling intervention. Implications of examining the efficacy of EBPs in applied settings, such as community employment settings, will be discussed.




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